Each culture has its "staples." When we think of traditional Amish culinary culture, what comes to mind? Well, for me, I think of shoo-fly pie, fried pies, plump cinnamon rolls, and chicken-corn soup to name a few. Often when we think about Native American culinary culture, especially Navajo, we think of fry bread. When we think of African-American culture, certain food staples like collards come to mind. With the Cajun culture, we think of gumbo and jambalaya. Well, in a remote border area of northern Maine, Acadian French culture is still strong and one of the most popular dishes there is known as fricot, a thick chicken chowder that provides warmth during the long, cold winter nights!
🍁How I Found Fricot Close to Canada
I was in northern Maine several years ago to write an article, a small out-of-the-way outpost on the New Brunswick-Maine border. I found myself in a town called Madawaska. A whole string of towns here along US Route 1A along the St John River are primarily French-speaking towns. In Madawaska the population is close to 80 percent French-speaking as a first language. The area is just across from Edmundston, New Brunswick which is heavily French also. The French here are known as "Acadians" and are cousins to the Cajuns who bring so much culture and joy to southern Louisiana.
📋 Amish Vs. Acadian Cooking
Acadian cooking comes from a completely different cultural background than Amish cooking. Amish food has largely been shaped by the generation it is in and the region and has been heavily influenced by processed foods. Acadian cooking is more "pure", enjoying a deep historical resonance in the area.
One of the things to try is the traditional Acadian chicken stew. If dumplings are added to it, it is called fricot. Visitors to the area can find the stew on restaurant menus including Dolly's Restaurant where this photo was taken and where I enjoyed some delicious eats! This is a photo of the thick stew, a staple to get through the long brutal winters here, but it is a favorite year-round. Although most families have their own recipe for this with minor variations, this is a popular formulation.
📜 Step-by-Step Fricot
There are many different variations of fricot, some use chicken as the main meat, others clams, still others no meat at all.
You can use chicken breasts, a whole roasting chicken, chicken thighs, whatever chicken you can get your hands on. Just chunk it up or slice it up before moving on with the rest of the recipe. You can even just shred or tear the chicken into pieces.
Dice potatoes or chunk them up, 5 cups of them. Potatoes are a staple in Maine. They grow easily in the region's soil and climate, so potatoes are more than a culinary afterthought here, they go into many dishes with great care.
Summer Savory is an herb that is very common in France, so I am not surprised to see it in fricot, but it can be difficult to find in stores in the USA. It's got a peppery flavor, you can buy some from Amazon (affiliate link) here.
Let the stew simmer for a good 90 minutes or two hours and you'll get a delicious chicken creation!
If you want authentic fricot, a recipe very close to what you see here, stick to the recipe. If you want to veer off course, you can add other seasonings.
🙋 FAQ Acadian Chicken Stew
The French translation is literally "feast." Often in French Acadia "au fricot" is a phrase announcing mealtime.
They are not the same but they are closely related. Cajuns in Louisiana are descendants from French Canadians (Acadians) who stayed behind in Atlantic Canada.
🥄 More Amish Soup Recipes
Mennonite Taco Soup - Good Stuff!
Amish Church Soup - Very traditional
Chicken Corn Chowder - Delicious summer soup!
Coffee Soup - An Amish Favorite!
🖨️ Full Recipe
Hearty Acadian Chicken Stew (Fricot)
- 1 chicken, cut up into serving size pieces
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 12 cups water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon summer savory
- 5 cups diced potatoes
- In a large pot (French or Dutch oven) add oil and brown the chicken.
- Remove the chicken pieces and brown the onion and flour in the remaining oil for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add water, salt, pepper and savory.
- Cook until the chicken is tender (1 to 1-½ hours, depending on the size of the chicken).
- Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes longer. Serve immediately.